When the Trump brothers, Donald Jr. and Eric, pulled the plug on their hotel company’s expansion plans — and cut their ties with Suresh and Dinesh Chawla, who own three hotels in Clarksdale — they blamed the decision on a hostile political environment.
“We live in a climate where everything will be used against us, whether by the fake news or by Democrats who are only interested in presidential harassment and wasting everyone’s time, barraging us with nonsense letters,” said Eric Trump.
It’s odd, though, that when the Trump brothers thought they could expand their company beyond its five-star niche and into lower-priced tiers, they were expecting a business benefit from their father’s presidency. They believed Donald Trump’s calculated appeal to white middle-class and working-class Americans would make their idea marketable.
From the start, the deal between Trump Hotels and Chawla Hotels seemed like a trial balloon. People in the industry said when the arrangement was announced in 2017 — to develop a luxury property the Chawlas had already started in Cleveland into a four-star Trump-managed Scion and convert three other lower-end Chawla hotels in the Delta (including the former Rodeway Inn on South State Street in Clarksdale) into three-star American Idea Hotels — it was unusual to have so few other takers lined up when rolling out two new national hotel brands.
Even though the Trump company claimed to have dozens of developers ready to come on board, that was apparently a gross exaggeration, as none materialized.
We hope the Trumps’ pullback doesn’t create much of a setback for Chawla Hotels.
Suresh and Dinesh Chawla have been very successful, without the Trumps’ help, in growing the lodging business their own father started into the largest in Mississippi.
They have been good corporate citizens in Clarksdale and every community where they do business.
Locally, in the past year, they donated furniture from one of their properties to a local families in need of assistance and they also were instrumental in the formation of the new Hospitality Academy offered by Coahoma Community College’s Higher Education Center.
And even though the four-star complex they have been trying to develop in Cleveland is a bit out of their three-star comfort zone, they are smart enough to pull it off, provided there is enough market in that community to support it.
Dinesh Chawla says that the project will continue and should be completed by the fall.
As far as the Clarksdale property, Suresh Chawla, who is the current president of the Clarksdale/Coahoma County Chamber of Commerce, said, “We are going to revisit our renovation project in Clarksdale and decide how we should proceed brand wise on the renovation. The long-term product will be much improved.”
Assuming it does, then the last two years will just be a good learning experience for Chawla Hotels.
They have their own brand, and it’s probably better off separated from the highly polarized one of the Trumps.